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Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 20 September
11:55 AM MDT | September 20, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST
This Week in CW:
Huntsman and Rockwood on Tuesday announced that Huntsman will buy Rockwood’s titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigments business, as well as other businesses, for $1.33 billion, including assumed pension liabilities. The other businesses in the deal include color pigments and services, timber treatment chemicals, rubber and thermoplastics compounding, and water treatment chemicals. The deal is expected to close during the first half of 2014. Huntsman intends to consolidate the TiO2 and pigments businesses with its own businesses in the same areas. This move would create the second-largest global TiO2 producer, after DuPont, with 16% of global capacity.
Dow Chemical is cancelling its previously announced plan to divest its plastic additives business because bids undervalued the business, Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris told attendees of Credit Suisse's Chemical and Ag Science conference this week. The sale, first announced in March, was intended to be part of a portfolio restructuring that included up to $1.5 billion in proceeds from divestitures by mid-2014. The plastic additives business is part of Dow’s performance materials segment, which recorded $13.6 billion in sales in 2012, down 6.8% from 2011.
Henkel says it opened the world’s largest adhesives plant on Wednesday in the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park, at Caojing, China. Henkel began constructing this previously announced 428,000-m.t./year plant in 2011. The new plant, which Henkel calls the Dragon Plant, is now the central production site for industrial adhesives in China and Asia/Pacific, Henkel says. The plant serves customers in the automotive industry and various consumer goods sectors. Henkel invested over €50 million ($66.8 million) in the plant and will employ about 600 people there.
The US Senate announced yesterday that it has passed a measure that will prevent a possible shutdown of the US federal helium reserve by a 97-2 vote, reports say. Under the current law, the Federal Helium Program was scheduled to end on 7 October—effectively cutting off funding and access to the supply for companies. The reserve supplies more than one-third of the world’s crude helium supply.
Around the Web:
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is soliciting comments on a proposed new rule that would require companies to publish a measure of median pay and how it compares with compensation for the chief executive—including stock options and all the other C-suite sweeteners, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. A median measure will probably more closely reflect what the rank and file actually takes home, because it won’t be distorted by a few seven and eight-figure executive paychecks, Bloomberg says.
Federal Reserve officials held off Wednesday in starting to wind down the central bank's $85-billion-a-month bond purchase program, a sign they think the economy remains too weak to begin withdrawing stimulus, CBS news reports. Many economists and stock analysts had expected the Fed to announce plans to trim its monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage bonds. But weak job gains in recent months, coupled with subpar economic growth in the first half of the year, appear to have weighed on members of the Federal Open Market Committee, the bank's monetary policy panel.
A way to improve the efficiency of steam condensation in the production of electricity and clean water has been discovered that could have an enormous impact on global energy use, according to Phys.org. It has been known for years that making steam-condenser surfaces hydrophobic—that is, getting them to repel water—could improve the efficiency of condensation by causing the water to quickly form droplets. But most hydrophobic materials have limited durability, especially in steamy industrial settings. The new approach to coating condenser surfaces should overcome that problem, MIT researchers say.